Page last updated at 10:41 GMT, Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Stars line up for TOTP special

La Roux, Muse and Florence And The Machine

By Fiona Pryor
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

For many people, Top of the Pops was once the only way to see their favourite pop stars perform.

The iconic music programme was a fixture in TV schedules for 42 years, but dwindling viewing figures meant the final weekly show was broadcast in 2006.

The traditional Top of the Pops Christmas special has remained, however, and is back this year with one show on Christmas Day and a second on New Year's Eve.

Artists such as Dizzee Rascal, Lily Allen, Calvin Harris, Alexandra Burke, La Roux and Florence And The Machine have been lined up to perform.

Reggie Yates and Fearne Cotton
Reggie Yates and Fearne Cotton will return to host the festive shows

"I used to watch it every week, it was probably my favourite programme," says Florence Welch.

Talking backstage just before recording her performance for the show, she recalls one of the programme's most memorable moments for her.

"I remember seeing Bjork perform on Top of the Pops and that had a real impact on me as a kid. It's incredible to be here, but quite surreal."

For Florence, singing on the show has been a lifelong dream.

"It had finished when I had started doing music, but the fact that it's come back at Christmas is just amazing.

"I was actually really sad when Top of the Pops ended because I really wanted to play on it, so this is amazing. I'm actually going to do it, oh my God, it's just hit me," she laughs.

She is not the only performer to feel this way.

Show format

The Sugababes are also set to play.

The new trio have only been working together for a few months - after Keisha Buchanan left the group and was replaced by Jade Ewen - but they are looking forward to singing on the show.

"It's really nice to be asked for the special," says Heidi Range.

"All of us grew up wanting to be singers and I think when you're a kid you'd always look at Top of the Pops and think, 'if I ever get on there I've made it'. It's going to be nice to be on it."

The Sugababes
The brand new line-up of the Sugababes recorded their performance

There will also be a performance from X Factor winner Joe McElderry, who narrowly missed out on this year's Christmas number one.

Anarchic rockers Rage Against The Machine beat the 18-year-old to the top slot with Killing In The Name.

Archive film of the 1992 track will be broadcast on the Christmas Day Top Of The Pops.

Although the show's format will remain the same and was produced by the same crew, there is one small difference this year.

The studio it was filmed in is much smaller, but that does not stop fans jostling to stand behind presenters Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates so they can get be seen on screen.

"We love Top of the Pops. We used to watch it every week and it's amazing to be here and hopefully we'll be on TV on Christmas Day, we're going to try to get on screen," says 35-year-old Alison Stewart.

James McCann, 33, from Belfast, says he first watched the show in 1985. "I think it was when Shakin' Stevens was number one at Christmas with Merry Christmas Everyone.

"I grew up with the show and I loved it."

Gary Tempest, 42, from Ealing, London, agreed that it was the "must-see" programme when he was a child.

"You stayed in to watch Top of the Pops and find out what was going on. It was the only way you knew who was number one and who was worth listening to."

And 18-year-old Steph Humphreys would like to see it back on TV.

You've got to remember that all the greats have done Top of the Pops, so there's no shame in playing on it whatsoever
Kasabian's singer Tom Meighan

"I used to watch it when I was younger. It's a good opportunity to come and see it. It's definitely missed on the TV, we haven't got anything like it."

Cotton agrees, saying it would be "amazing" for the show to make a full-time comeback.

"Let's get a petition, let's get banners and let's picket outside," she laughs.

"British music has had one of its best years in a long time. We've got stars of our own now," Reggie says.

"Things are exciting again and definitely it would be fantastic to see what would happen if we were back on a regular basis."

Cotton continues: "People don't have a platform these days. TV-wise it's difficult for bands and artists to do promotion at the moment."

Even rock bands like Kasabian are pleased to have been asked to take part.

"It's a cool show, I dig it," says the group's singer Tom Meighan. "You've got to remember that all the greats have done Top of the Pops, so there's no shame in playing on it whatsoever.

"I used to record it when I was a kid."

London rapper Dappy from N-Dubz is hoping that, if the show were to come back, he would get a chance to present it, saying the role would "be an instinct to me".

He adds: "I used to watch this show as a young little boy and I was broke as hell. It is a pleasure to be here as it was a dream of mine to be in a show like this when I was younger."

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